September 11/07

Bible Reading of the day
Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint Luke 6,6-11. On another sabbath he went into the synagogue and taught, and there was a man there whose right hand was withered. The scribes and the Pharisees watched him closely to see if he would cure on the sabbath so that they might discover a reason to accuse him. But he realized their intentions and said to the man with the withered hand, "Come up and stand before us." And he rose and stood there. Then Jesus said to them, "I ask you, is it lawful to do good on the sabbath rather than to do evil, to save life rather than to destroy it?" Looking around at them all, he then said to him, "Stretch out your hand." He did so and his hand was restored. But they became enraged and discussed together what they might do to Jesus

The Syrian riddle.By Akiva Eldar - Haaretz. September 10/07

Latest News Reports From Miscellaneous Sources for September 10/07
Where, or Who, is Shaker Abssi?-Naharnet
March 14 Appears to be Set to Accept Berri Initiative
Lebanon Appeals for Funds To Rebuild Nahr al-Bared
Khoja Defies Threats, Returns to Beirut
Kassarji for Consensus and Dismantling Tent City
Norway to Give $1.46 Million to Palestinian Refugees in Lebanon
Hizbullah Command Stronghold in Dahiyeh Under Building
Canada's PM blasts Elections Canada ruling on,Canada
Lebanon seeks donor help to rebuild siege camp.AFP
Lebanon army fought 450-500 Fatah al-Islam militants
.Ya Libnan
Israel still mum on reported Syria overflight
Mysteries Proliferate In the Sky Above Syria
.New York Sun
Cyprus in new aid package to Lebanon.Financial Mirror 
Government must decide now on IDF priorities in next war with Syria.Ynetnews
Pivotal US report due on Iraq as attacks
UAE military field engineers arrive in Lebanon.ReliefWeb (press release) - Geneva,Switzerland
Fatah al-Islam Episode Highlights Lebanon's Continuing Instability.The Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs (JINSA)

March 14 Appears to be Set to Accept Berri Initiative
Naharnet/The ruling March 14 coalition appeared to be set to accept an initiative launched by Speaker Nabih Berri to resolve the country's deep political crisis.
The daily An Nahar on Monday, citing sources close to March 14 Forces, said the pro-government alliance seemed likely to accept Berri's proposal seen as a last-ditch olive branch that could hep end the country's months-long political stalemate. Berri had announced that the Hizbullah-led opposition was willing to drop its demand for a national unity government on condition the country's feuding political parties agreed on a consensus presidential candidate.
An Nahar said March 14 apparently tends towards supporting one part of the initiative which calls for "dialogue and discussion" among the pro- and anti-government camps, without having to "abandon the fundamental minimum constitutional rights."The sources said March 14 has reservations regarding Berri's insistence to elect a new president for Lebanon by a two-third quorum. "What if a consensus presidential candidate had been agreed upon after the (ruling) majority had already relinquished its right to elect a president by a simple majority,?" one source asked. However, Telecommunications Minister Marwan Hamadeh stressed that March 14 would make its final decision vis-à-vis Berri's initiative at a meeting to be held before Berri makes TV appearance on Thursday. Hamadeh, a senior leader of the March 14 coalition, described Berri's initiative as a "move on the right track."However, he said the offer remains a "mere move" which should be pursued at all levels.
Hamadeh ruled out the possibility that a political vacuum could occur in the event Parliament failed to elect a successor to Lahoud, stressing that "anyhow, there will be a President for Lebanon."Berri called for a special session on September 25 to elect a new head of state for Lebanon.
The vote for a successor to Syrian-backed President Emile Lahoud has exacerbated the country's political crisis which has split Beirut into pro- and anti-Damascus camps. If the necessary two-third majority quorum - or at least 86 members present in the 128-seat parliament -- is not guaranteed on September 25, Berri will have to call for another session before Lahoud's term expires on November 24.
To muster the necessary quorum, a compromise must be reached by the warring sides, as the ruling coalition of Prime Minister Fouad Saniora controls only 69 seats in the house. Beirut, 10 Sep 07, 08:10

Where, or Who, is Shaker Abssi?
Naharnet/The leader of the al-Qaida inspired Fatah Islam group fled a Palestinian refugee camp in northern Lebanon a day before its fall into the hands of Lebanese army earlier this month, the prosecutor general said Monday. Prosecutor General Saeed Mirza also said in a statement that a DNA test on a body suspected to be that of militant leader Shaker al-Abssi proved it was not his. The finding countered earlier reports by al-Abssi's wife, who had identified a body in a hospital as her husband's. Mirza also said that a recently captured Fatah Islam militant had told authorities that al-Abssi fled the camp the night of Sept. 1. Dozens of Fatah Islam militants were killed as they staged a mass breakout from the Nahr el-Bared camp the next day. Some managed to escape and were pursued by Lebanese troops in the countryside. A total of 164 Lebanese soldiers and 222 militants were killed in the over three-month long battles, and more than 200 captured.The fighting broke out May 20 between militants of the Fatah Islam holed up in Nahr el-Bared, just outside the port city of Tripoli, and Lebanese troops surrounding it. It was the worst internal violence since Lebanon's 1975-1990 civil war. Al-Abssi's wife, his daughter, and also a Palestinian Muslim cleric who mediated between the army and Fatah al-Islam during the battles, had identified a body in a Tripoli hospital morgue as al-Abssi's.
But authorities took samples from al-Abssi's daughter and also his brother in Jordan, for conclusive DNA testing. "The result (shows) the corpse in the hospital morgue in Tripoli does not belong to the suspect Shaker al-Abssi," Mirza's statement said. But in Jordan, al-Absi's older brother, Abdul-Razak al-Absi, blasted Lebanese authorities' testing and claimed the militant leader was indeed dead. "These people don't know how to carry out DNA tests, it's wrong, my brother is dead," al-Absi's eldest brother said in a telephone interview. "My brother's body was identified by his wife, his daughters and five Muslim scholars who knew him, so how can he be alive?" the brother told The Associated Press.
Asked if he had recently heard from al-Abssi or if he was intentionally hiding knowledge of the militant leader's whereabouts, the brother said: "Enough is enough, I'm not lying, they're the ones who are confused and are trying to say unrealistic things."Mirza said that two days ago a Yemeni citizen identified as Nasser Mohammed Yahya Shiba, 24, was arrested in the Minyeh region north of the camp.He testified that he had left Nahr el-Bared with al-Abssi and three other militants shortly before midnight Sept. 1. "Shaker al-Abssi was in good health, wearing an explosive belt and carrying a Kalashnikov assault rifle, magazines and hand grenades," Mirza's statement quoted the Yemeni suspect as saying. The Yemeni added that he ran behind and lost the others, hid in a deserted house and was only captured after he sought food from a nearby house, according to the statement.
Al-Abssi, a Palestinian linked to the late leader of al-Qaida in Iraq, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, had not been seen or heard from since early in the Nahr el-Bared fighting.
In 2004, a Jordanian military court sentenced al-Abssi to death in absentia, along with al-Zarqawi, for their roles in the 2002 slaying of a U.S. diplomat in Amman. Al-Zarqawi was killed in a U.S. air strike a year ago.(AP) Beirut, 10 Sep 07, 16:58

Lebanon Appeals for Funds To Rebuild Nahr al-Bared

Naharnet/Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Saniora appealed to international donors on Monday for help in rebuilding a Palestinian refugee camp devastated by a 15-week battle between troops and Islamist militants. The prime minister told Agence France Presse that the costs of rebuilding the Nahr al-Bared camp and adjacent areas, and of caring for those forced from their homes until they could return, ran to an estimated 382 million dollars. He told donors that the costs were simply beyond Lebanon's resources. "Lebanon cannot do this alone, it is simply beyond our capacity," he said. "This is a shared responsibility, the international community bears a solid responsibility toward the plight of the refugees. "We have to demonstrate commitment and ensure that the required financial support is available in a timely manner. This is why we need your help." Saniora told AFP that according to a preliminary breakdown, 249 million dollars were needed to rebuild the camp itself, while further 50 million dollars were needed to repair property in nearby villages. In addition, 28 million dollars are needed in urgent aid for Lebanese villagers whose homes had been damaged, in addition to 55 million dollars for the needs of Palestinian refugees displaced from the camp.
The U.N. Relief and Works Agency for Palestine refugees issued its own appeal at the Beirut donors' conference for the 55 million dollars required for the Palestinians who had been forced from their homes. The agency's commissioner general, Karen Abu Zayd, said she was appealing for the money "for one year to meet the emergency needs of the affected population and to plan for a full and safe return for those displaced." Before the clashes erupted between the army and Fatah al-Islam militants on May 20, the Nahr al-Bared camp, near the northern city of Tripoli, was home to some 30,000 Palestinian refugees. Saniora and Palestinian officials have pledged to rebuild the camp but the prime minister has warned it will take time before residents can return because of the scale of the damage and the unexploded ordnance from the fighting. Nearly all the camp's residents fled in the early days of the clashes to seek refuge in some of Lebanon's other 11 refugee camps, where they have been living in difficult conditions. Norway said on Monday it would give 1.46 million dollars to help camp residents who had been forced to flee. The fighting in and around Nahr al-Bared, which finally ended on September 2, cost nearly 400 lives, 163 of them soldiers.(AFP) Beirut, 10 Sep 07, 17:56

Kassarji for Consensus and Dismantling Tent City
Naharnet/MP George Kassarji called Monday for consensus on electing a new president and urged the opposition to call off its 10-month old tent city sit in to demonstrate its readiness for national entente.Kassarji, in a statement distributed by the state-run National News Agency, said: "I urge the parliamentary majority to meet the opposition … to achieve consensus on a president.""In return, I call on the friendly opposition to participate in building confidence by calling off the sit-in at Riyadh Solh Square … and I call on ministers who had boycotted the government to resume practicing their responsibilities as an entrance to consolidate the desired consensus," the statement said. He said citizens of the Zahleh-Central Bekaa constituency that he represents in parliament "reject vacuum" in the presidential office and "deplore" the idea of forming two governments if a new head of state is not elected to replace President Emile Lahoud whose extended term in office expires on Nov. 24. Beirut, 10 Sep 07, 14:23

Norway to Give $1.46 Million to Palestinian Refugees in Lebanon

Naharnet/Norway said Monday it would give 10 million kroner (1.46 million dollars) to help Palestinian refugees who have fled the Nahr al-Bared refugee camp destroyed by fighting between the Lebanese army and Fatah al-Islam terrorists. The donation was to be formally announced in Beirut during a meeting Monday of donors for the reconstruction of the Nahr al-Bared camp after 15 weeks of battle, the Norwegian foreign ministry said in a statement. "We have a responsibility to help the more than 30,000 refugees who have fled from the Nahr al-Bared camp. The refugees need more help now after the protracted fighting in the camp," Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Stoere said. The Lebanese army took control of Nahr al-Bared on September 2 but has warned against a hasty return of refugees due to unexploded ordnance. The donation brings Norway's humanitarian aid to Palestinian refugees in Lebanon to 37 million kroner. The Scandinavian country has also increased by 50 million kroner its allocation to the U.N. relief agency for Palestinian refugees' (UNRWA's) operating budget for 2007, to 150 million kronor.(AFP) Beirut, 10 Sep 07, 11:30

Khoja Defies Threats, Returns to Beirut

Naharnet/Saudi Ambassador to Lebanon Abdul Aziz Khoja defied direct threats against his life and returned to work in Beirut.
The state-run National News Agency said Khoja, who along with the United Arab Emirates ambassador to Lebanon Mohammed Sultan al-Suwaidi had received death threats, arrived in Beirut late Sunday. Khoja, according to a senior Lebanese official, left Lebanon on August 17 after the embassy formally notified the Lebanese foreign ministry of a "threat of attack against the ambassador's residence, the embassy or other Saudi interests in Lebanon."  The Saudi embassy declined comment but an Arab diplomat confirmed the details. The embassy cited warnings from the Saudi intelligence services that a stolen BMW was being readied to commit "a terrorist act against Saudi interests in Lebanon," the diplomat said. Khoja had assured that he will resume work at the end of his summer vacation.
Oil-rich Saudi Arabia is a key financier of Lebanon and a staunch backer of the Prime Minister Fouad Saniora's majority government. Khoja had been involved in efforts to broker an end to the rift with pro-Syrian factions that has paralyzed Saniora's legislative agenda. He had been holding talks with the pro-Syrian speaker of parliament, Nabih Berri, who has refused to recognize the Saniora government since six pro-Syrian ministers quit in November. Lebanon has been hit by a wave of attacks in recent years targeting anti-Syrian politicians, most infamously the 2005 murder of five-time Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, a billionaire businessman who held joint Lebanese and Saudi citizenship. Beirut, 10 Sep 07, 09:21

Hizbullah Command Stronghold in Dahiyeh Under Building
Watched over by guards, workers lay concrete blocks for brand new housing to replace Hizbullah's former command headquarters, destroyed by Israeli air strikes last year in Beirut's southern suburbs. A year after the devastating war between Israel and Hizbullah, the Shiite bastion has been turned into a vast construction site, criss-crossed by trucks carrying cement. Visitors and even contractors are escorted to the building sites by Hizbullah's "Indibat" (discipline) guards, wearing uniform camel fatigues and brown boots. The guards, communicating with walkie-talkies, wear caps that say Waad, Arabic for "pledge."
Waad is a project of Hizbullah's reconstruction arm, Jihad al-Bina, to rebuild the teeming southern suburbs of Beirut where Israeli strikes destroyed or badly-damaged nearly 300 multi-storey buildings. The project was named after "al-Waad al Sadeq" or the "truthful pledge," the name given by Hizbullah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah to the capture of two Israeli soldiers on July 12, 2006, in order to secure a prisoners' swap.
Israel responded the same day with a massive assault after which Nasrallah declared that his fighters' fierce resistance to the 34-day offensive was a "divine victory" over the Jewish state's mighty army. "Waad is rebuilding 196 destroyed buildings, while the owners of 68 other destroyed buildings have decided to rebuild them themselves," Waad director general Hassan Jashi told AFP. He said "we chose 42 of the country's best firms to carry out the reconstruction works. Works have already started in 75 buildings." "Works should be complete by early 2009," vowed Jashi, sitting in his air-conditioned office, watching security camera footage of offices in the building and the street on a television screen. Waad spokesman Maher Assi added that "there will not be security perimeters anymore" in the southern suburbs where Hizbullah once kept areas off-limits to government forces despite criticism from political rivals.
"We don't need security perimeters, we are all over the place now in Lebanon," he said. Jashi said the southern suburbs -- buildings of shoddy construction towering over a labyrinth of narrow roads, with cars parked chaotically on the sidewalk -- will experience a major face-lift. "We plan to have larger roads, lined with trees. We even bought lands to build public gardens, with underground parking lots. The buildings will be built to resist earthquakes and reduce noise."
In an apparent bid to maintain its power base, Hizbullah has granted families that lost property about 10,000 dollars each. Hizbullah has been evasive about the source of its funding but Iran is generally suspected as the main financial backer of the Shiite party. As for the Lebanese government, Sanaa al-Jack, spokeswoman for its reconstruction projects, told AFP "the project costs 340 billion (Lebanese) pounds (227 million dollars), of which we have so far paid 141.34 billion pounds."
The government has granted citizens whose units had been completely destroyed about 53,000 dollars. Compensation for damaged property is assessed on a case by case basis. "The process has been slow because originally many people did not have proper legal documents for their properties which were built illegally, and some other people have lost their documents during the war," she said. 
The government has only granted the checks to property owners in person, as it did not agree to give a party -- namely the opposition Hizbullah -- the compensation on their behalf. Waad director Jashi said "the ruling coalition is just creating hurdles because they think that if works are slowed down, people will be angry at Hzibullah. But it is the opposite that is happening." Jashi also said the government was providing most of the funds necessary for the suburbs' rebuilding through assistance granted by Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, both of which are also funding similar rebuilding projects in southern Lebanon. "There are other smaller donors, mostly from the private sector, but they do not like to be identified because (US President George) Bush keeps Hizbullah on his terrorism list," he said, with a sarcastic smile.
Iran has financed the rebuilding of several bridges in the Beirut suburbs, in addition to the restoration of a Maronite Catholic church also damaged by the Israeli strikes.
Project engineer Marwan Gharios, a 44-year-old resident of the Christian city of Byblos, north of the Lebanese capital, works for a company that was entrusted with the reconstruction of 33 buildings in the southern suburbs. "I have no problems and we are all working together in harmony, Christians and Muslims," he said of his first project in the suburbs.
"And this is a good job opportunity for me, that allows me to earn a decent living for me and my family while staying in Lebanon despite the economic crisis," said Gharios, who had been contemplating a job offer in Dubai. Gharios was standing at the edge of a deep site where workers were laying the foundations of a building to replace the once heavily-guarded Hzibullah secretariat general in Haret Hreik neighborhood. "The U.S. has destroyed and Jihad al-Bina is rebuilding," read a giant banner at the site. Mohammed Shreif, an employee at the Central Bank of Lebanon, said he was living in an apartment which he had bought with a loan in Haret Hreik.
"I am living in debts, in a rented flat," he said on top of undergoing "three heart operations since the war." Shreif's house was also bombed by Israel during its invasion of Lebanon in 1982, at the height of the Lebanese civil war."But this time around we are getting compensation and we are keeping our heads high," he said, adding: "We lost our homes, but Israel lost the war."(AFP) Beirut, 10 Sep 07, 10:00

Harper blasts Elections Canada over veil ruling
SYDNEY, Australia (CP) - Prime Minister Stephen Harper says Elections Canada is subverting the will of Parliament by permitting Muslim women to wear veils and burkas while voting.
And he’s promising Parliament will do something about it if the arm-length elections agency doesn’t change course. Harper said he “profoundly disagrees” with Elections Canada’s recent ruling, prompted by three byelections in Quebec on Sept. 17.
He noted that all four parties in the House of Commons this past spring voted to bring in a new law requiring visual identification of voters.
“That’s the purpose of the law,” said Harper, speaking to reporters Sunday following an international summit in Sydney, Australia.
“That was a law adopted virtually unanimously by Parliament. I think this decision goes in an entirely different direction.”
Harper has fought a series of battles with Elections Canada going all the way back to his days in private life as president of the National Citizen’s Coalition, when he sought to overturn rules prohibiting third-party advertising during election campaigns.
The Conservative party is currently in a legal dispute with Elections Canada over candidate rebates from the 2006 federal campaign.
Harper said the veil decision concerns him deeply “because the role of Elections Canada is not to make its own laws, it’s to put into place the laws that Parliament has passed.”
Elections Canada has scheduled a news conference Monday morning in Ottawa to address the controversy.
Condemnation of the veil ruling has united politicians on all sides of the political fence, both federally and in Quebec.
And it has left some Muslim organizations scratching their heads, saying they were never consulted.
A spokeswoman for the Canadian Council on American-Islamic Relations in Montreal said this week the ruling will have an impact on very few Muslim women.
“We’re talking about a minority of a minority of a minority,” said Sarah Elgazzar. “It’s a very small section of the practising Muslim women, which is already a small enough section of the Muslim community that actually wear the niqab.”
Harper said he hopes Elections Canada reconsiders, “but in the meantime, if that doesn’t happen, Parliament will have to consider what actions it’s going to take to make sure that its intentions are put into place.”
This entry was posted on Sunday, September 9th, 2007 at 12:49 pm and is filed under General, Islam, Canadian Politics. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

CCD applauds PM, raises concerns about government enforcement of sharia practices
For Immediate Release
September 10, 2007
Canadian Coalition for Democracies
Ottawa, Canada - The Canadian Coalition for Democracies (CCD) applauds Prime Minister Stephen Harper for taking a stand against exempting one religious group from the requirement of photo identification when voting.
"Prime Minister Harper is right to demand that all voters, regardless of their religion, be equal before the ballot box," said Alastair Gordon, CCD President. "Permitting or accommodating the anonymity of a full Muslim veil or burqa at a polling station undermines the integrity of our electoral system."
On March 25, Marc Mayrand, Canada's Chief Electoral Officer, met with the Directeur général des élections du Québec. In April, Mr. Maynard's agency consulted with at least two Muslim groups - the Canadian Arab Federation (CAF) and the Canadian Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR-CAN) to seek their views on women voting with veils. Following these consultations, Mr. Maynard effectively bowed to sharia standards, and agreed to exempt women with face coverings, including full burqas, from the accepted practice of photo identification to which all other voters are, and should be, subjected.
"The risk is that once such a principle is accepted, we will face radical demands for its consistent application in other areas of our lives," added Gordon. "Having said that photo ID is not required for one religious group for a transaction as important as voting, the same demand for sharia privileging can be made for driver's licenses, passports, airport security passes, and other accepted mechanisms of personal accountability and public safety."
A bedrock principle of our successful democracy is that people are open and identifiable. That openness has helped create the relatively safe, tolerant, pluralistic society that we enjoy today. Cloaked voting clearly breaches this principle.
"By agreeing to bend our electoral system to sharia demands, we not only undermine our democratic system, but create a precedent that will have potentially deadly consequences if extended into areas of public safety and national security," added Gordon.
The Canadian Coalition for Democracies expresses special concern about reports that some public officials' might favour a "solution" calling for fully-veiled voters to raise their veils exclusively to female electoral officials for identification purposes. Any such approach would constitute a grossly unacceptable enforcement of sharia gender sensibilities and inequalities by government personnel and processes. It would undermine gender equality and electoral integrity, and represent a constitutionally unacceptable affront to the human rights of male officials barred from the performance of their duties on this account.
For more information, please contact
David Harris, Senior Fellow for National Security
Canadian Coalition for Democracies
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Founded in 2003, the Canadian Coalition for Democracies (CCD) is a national, non-partisan, multi-ethnic, multi-religious organization of concerned Canadians dedicated to civil liberties, national security and the protection and promotion of democracy at home and abroad. CCD focuses on research, education and media publishing to build a greater understanding of the importance of national security and a pro-democracy foreign policy.

The “Bin Trotsky” Video and the Jihadi Failure in Iraq
By Walid Phares
As I was watching Osama Bin Laden reading carefully from his “prepared speech,” I couldn’t help but notice the dramatic drifting in the rhetoric from Salafi Jihadism to a new brand of neo-Wahhabism, which I’ll baptize just for the sake of analytical linguistics: “Jihadi Trotskyism.”
The (now) black bearded high commander of al Qaeda was surely still quoting from holy texts and talking at a “Caliphate” level, but stunningly, he was also reciting recycled Neo Marxist rhetoric, the kind of which is usually generated at Berkeley, Columbia or the web sites of the anarchic and post Soviet “internationalists.” This mutation, above all other matters related to hair color, skin health or “where-is-Osama,” is the essence of the tape, at least for those who read it from a strategic angle.
In short, the man has turned to a fantasy of bi-doctrinal ideology, a trend in which he showed interest years ago. Indeed, I wasn't the only reader of his speech who noticed the mutation but many other observers did too, including the senior analyst of al Jazeera International who commented on the substance of it.
He said: “Are we seeing a Marxist Bin Laden now?” Obviously, the question was a sort of a teaser, for the Islamist movement knows all too well that the chief of al Qaeda is an ultra Jihadist and is not really converting to Marx, Lenin or Trotsky ideas. As the connoisseurs of Bin Laden thinking agreed on multiple Western and Arabic channels, he is “using” the weapon of extreme left wing discourse to obtain further chaos inside the enemy camp.
So, what was the real and profound goal of this tape? Let’s follow the stages of Jihadi logic:
1. Perhaps the most important reason for Osama’s entourage to produce the tape (despite displaying the psychological and physical health of the boss), is the state of affairs of al Qaeda worldwide: not so brilliant by the movement’s standards. Since 2001, the Taliban regime was lost and Afghanistan has never fully recovered from the Infidels. The remnants of al Qaeda and their allies were forced to flee and re-gather in Waziristan, where they threatened the Pakistani Government and launched cross border attacks. Although he game is not over, Musharref’s forces are now engaging them.
In Somalia, the Islamic Courts were driven out of the capital, at least for now. Even in tiny Lebanon, the local Bin Ladenists were hit by the Lebanese Army. And of course in the main battlefield, the Sunni Triangle of Iraq, al Qaeda commanders were killed and local Sunni tribes are fighting the foreign Jihadists: a matter to be raised by US General Petraeus in Washington. The news isn’t so good strategically, although the Jihadists don’t care about losses because they seek a continuous process of “Jihad” till “Allah decides the outcome.” Hence, the first reason behind the tape was a pressing need to show the “commander,” to underline that the struggle continues, and instead of discussing the al Qaeda failures –particularly in Iraq – to bypass this debate.
Thus to dodge the problems, the speech writers of the organization mounted an ideological assault on the United States’ systemic issues, a matter Bin Laden found pleasure in addressing. He wants to impress his own cohorts with his overwhelming “knowledge” of the inside complexities of American politics. In a sense, he is fleeing answers about the “dar al Islam” (the Islamic zone according to the Jihadists) to pose questions about “dar al harb” (the infidels’ zone).
To demoralize his enemies and reassure his supporters that he is on top of the issues deep behind enemy lines, he obviously seeks the expertise of his own “Americans.” From public records, we know that Adam Gadahn, aka, Azzam al Amriki is the American spokesperson for al Qaeda. He himself has obvious ties to the “Jihadi underground” in the US. And that underworld absorbs the anti-American (in fact anarcho-Trotskyite) literature, available online, on campuses and in some segments of the media. This “Anarcho-American” Jihadist strain has a direct channel to Bin Laden, not always to the satisfaction of the pure Salafists of al Qaeda.
But the master likes the intellectual toys offered to him by his advisors. He feels he can relate to the American public, or so he is thinking. As I argued in my book Future Jihad, Bin Laden committed a first mistake by launching the 9/11 attacks too early. He may be committing a second mistake by presuming that Azzam and the “scholars of anarcho-Trotskyism” are representative samples of the American society. Indeed, by attacking the Democrat Party for “not doing enough” the tape revealed the influence the far left has had on al Qaeda’s bet to punish the Party of JF Kennedy for not ending the War on Terror fast enough.
The speech, though, could have an identical call on the extreme right (the anti-Semite and isolationist circles) to attack the Party of Ronald Reagan for not stopping the Administration from fighting the Jihadists. Hence, this is how I would understand the anti-corporate (yet not so Jihadist) paragraphs of Osama's address.
The tape left some unease among the wide circles of the usually sympathetic commentators on al Jazeera. Some continued to be positive, such as Yassir al Zaatar from Amman who argued that the speech was fantastic: “it will strengthen the Democrats, at the eve of the Iraq debate”; and Abdel Bari Atwan, editor of al Quds al Arabi, who said Bin laden is appearing under the mantra of a world Islamic authority, almost a Caliph. But the bulletin board online witnessed a chaos unseen before. Take a read, which I have translated below:
From Sudan: Osama, Allahu Akbar against the Americans, the Jews and the agents. We will behead them and throw their heads to the dogs.
From “Muslim”: The tape is fabricated, this is not Bin laden, this is the CIA.
From “Iraqi”: Who see serenity in killing the children of Iraq like the criminal Bin laden.
Jehina: Bin Laden has brought a new problem. He is a toy in America’s hands.
The lion of al Qaeda: to all Christians and Crusaders, we are coming.
Sanaa’: we miss you o sheikh of the Umma…Allah renders victorious the hero of the Mujahidin.
These are only a few samples of hundreds and thousands of postings. The Trotskyite “experiment” of Bin Laden of his “anarcho-Jihadist” advisors may not have been the greatest idea: Because as one can see from the reactions, many of the purest Jihadists can’t absorb the Marxian theories of Global Corporations. They only seek the good old Jihad against the Kuffar. They have gotten too much Wahhabism in their madrassa “schooling.” Their doctrinaires are Hassan al Banna and Sayid Qutb, not Noam Chomsky… or some Harvard elitist.
In the end, the speech shows that the War of Ideas is by far the final battlefield in the War on Terror. This is why, and as the American people understand, the real game in Iraq and beyond involves US leaders - in both parties and in all branches of power – who should not ignore or dismiss Bin Laden’s tape. To the contrary, I strongly suggest they respond to it, point by point.
All those named in the speech must answer al Qaeda directly, instead of fleeing into domestic politics.
** Contributing Editor Walid Phares is the director of Future Terrorism Project at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, a visiting scholar at the European Foundation for Democracy, and the author of The War of Ideas: Jihadism against Democracy.
read full author bio here
© 2003-2007 All Rights Reserved

The Syrian riddle
By Akiva Eldar - Haaretz
September 10/07
Irrespective of how one interprets the facial expressions made by those in the know in response to Syrian claims (true or false) of Israel Air Force overflights of Syrian territory, the regional reality remains unchanged. The Syrian-Iranian alliance is still in place and may even have been strengthened; Damascus's interests in Lebanon remain unchanged; Syria's influence over rejectionist Palestinian groups continues; the Golan Heights is still an open wound. Any military operation against Syria that might be approved in the future would at best undermine the Syrians' military capabilities, and perhaps also delay the danger of immediate war in the North - if such a danger ever actually existed - a bit longer.
The Second Lebanon War should have taught us that the success of a military operation against an extremist Sunni-Shi'ite coalition is not measured in the number of rocket launchers destroyed by our skilled pilots or the number of enemy fighters killed. It turns out that this war, which failed in terms of both military performance at the front and the handling of the Home Front, produced a regional political achievement. Fear that Hezbollah's gains would strengthen the hold of Iran and the groups that benefit from its protection and funding led the Middle East's secular-pragmatist coalition to close ranks. The effort to promote its peace initiative is the Arab League's response to Iranian efforts to extend its influence over Iraq, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon and the Gaza Strip.
Syria is playing a double game. On one hand, it is dipping into Iran's arms caches, complementing what is lacking there with purchases from Russia, and sending its surpluses to Hezbollah. On the other hand, it voted in favor of the Arab League initiative, which offers Israel peace and normalized relations in return for occupied territory. Even as he unfurls a red carpet for the visiting Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Bashar Assad is asking Turkey to convince Israel to talk with him about a peace process. On one hand, Syria expects Washington to mediate between Damascus and Jerusalem, and on the other hand, it has become the transit point for suicide bombers into Iraq.
An article that appeared in the official Syrian daily Tishrin suggests that even if Syria's behavior is contrary to the Arab consensus, it expects to benefit from this consensus. The paper's editor, Isam Dari, accused the Arab states of responding insufficiently to the alleged Israeli operation in Syria. "This silence," Dari wrote, "is proof that Syria is isolated, not only on the international level, but also in the Arab world." This should be noted in Jerusalem: As long as Syria is fighting for a place in the center of the Arab consensus, there is still a chance of extricating it from the extreme periphery and avoiding war between Israel and an Iranian front.
Therefore, from Israel's point of view, the most important question is what will happen to the Arab consensus in the coming months. Just as it did at the previous Arab League summit, held in Riyadh last March, the Arab consensus at the next summit, scheduled to be held in Damascus in March 2008, is expected to revolve around the Palestinian issue. The summit will take place following a peace conference at which an agreement of principles, which would chart a path for ending Israel's occupation of the territories on the basis of the principles of the Arab League initiative, is expected to be unveiled. If the conference has positive results, Syria will have to decide which side it is on. On the other hand, if this conference also fails and the territories go up in flames, this would create an optimal situation, from Syria's point of view, for a military confrontation.
According to Israeli intelligence analysts, Syrian patience will hold out until early 2009. Assad is counting on a Democratic White House lifting the embargo on Syria and convincing Israel to renew negotiations. By then, Syria will have completed its arms procurement program, and Iran may also have completed its nuclear program. On the other hand, Israel will not have completed development of the anti-missile technologies that the defense minister has been discussing. These same analysts believe that the Alawite regime in Damascus is not interested in becoming a pawn in an Iranian war for regional hegemony.
But either way, before being drawn into a war, all means to prevent it must be sought. And in any case, no military operation - not even a victory - can take the place of a political settlement.


September 07, 2007
Washington, D.C. – Under Secretary of State Ambassador Nicholas Burns received a delegation of Lebanese American leaders at the State department on Friday September 7, 2007 within the context of an outreach policy by the US Administration toward the Lebanese-American community and its leaders who back the Administration's policies in the Middle East, and particularly in Lebanon. The delegation included Dr. Joseph Gebeily and Mr. Joseph Hage of the American Lebanese Coalition (ALC); Mr. Ramzi Rihani of the National Association of Lebanese American (NALA); and Messrs.Sami Kadi, Walid Nassif and Antoine Helou of the March 14 Alliance-USA. Also present along with Under-Secretary Burns were Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Mr. Robert Danin and Mr. Matthew Irwin, Lebanon Desk Officer and Coordinator of Military Aid to Lebanon.
Ambassador Burns reiterated the Administration’s support to the Government of Lebanon headed by Prime Minister Fouad Siniora and its backing of the March 14 Alliance in its struggle to fully realize the goals of the Cedar Revolution. The Under-Secretary restated the Administration’s unwavering commitment for the survival of democracy in Lebanon, free of regional interference. Moreover, Mr. Burns congratulated the delegation on t he Lebanese Army’s victory over the terrorists in Nahr el Bared, reaffirmed the Administration’s commitment to support the Lebanese Army to enable it to extend its authority over the entire Lebanese soil and its continued resolve to lead international efforts towards implementing United Nations Security Council Resolutions 1559, 1680 and 1701.
Current challenges in Lebanon were discussed. There was unanimity that the upcoming presidential elections in Lebanon represent a short term challenge with long term consequences. There was further unanimity on the significance of electing a new president in accordance with Lebanon’s constitution and with the operative paragraphs in UNSCR 1559 and, most importantly, on the uneventful transfer of presidential powers and of the official seat of the presidency to the next constitutionally-elected president.
The Lebanese American leaders emphasized the need to disarm Lebanese and non-Lebanese militias that operate on Lebanese soil, safeguarding Lebanon’s sovereignty; the full and urgent implementation of all UN Security Council resolutions relevant to Lebanon’s sovereignty and independence, including but not limited to UNSC Resolutions 1559, 1680 and 1701; the demarcation of the Lebanese-Syrian borders; the monitoring of the Syrian-Lebanese borders, with international assistance; and the prompt launching of the International Tribunal to try the murders of Prime Minister Hariri and other political crimes against lebanese figures. Moreover, the delegation emphasized the need to respect the fundamental principles of non-interference in Lebanese affairs by regional powers and the disengagement of Lebanon from all regional conflicts.
After the meetings, a spokesman for the delegation declared: “We sensed an unwavering commitment from the US Administration and from Under-Secretary Burns to protect Lebanon’s independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity”. "We will continue our successful cooperation with US Officials for the sake of Lebanon and for the national interests of the United States".